Thursday, December 30, 2010

Back on the coast, scallops beckon

Now that I'm back on the coast, all I want to do is eat some seafood, no matter what the cost. And seafood combined with the comfort of risotto ... well, talk about getting homey in the dead of winter.

So after returning from landlocked Idaho Falls, I whipped up a batch of Lemon Risotto (with about half a 10-oz. bag of fresh spinach that I added along with the lemon juice in the end) sprinkled with delicious, melt-in-your-mouth scallops.

Because the Lemon Risotto recipe called for both extra-virgin olive oil and butter, I also used both to sear the scallops. I only made about 10 oz. of scllops, so I used about half the amount that was called for in the recipe (about 1/2 T. each) and added a light sprinkling of salt. We didn't have any leftover scallops, but the leftover Risotto tasted fabulous the next morning for breakfast!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The tenderest Pork Loin on Christmas Day

What a great Christmas. Besides spending the week with my awesome inlaws, I also spent the week eating awesome food and trying my darnedest not to feel guilty that I wasn't doing any exercise to counteract all those calories.

Well, if I gained a few pounds, it was worth it.

On Christmas Eve, we feasted on a delicious ham, Funeral Potatoes (we were in Idaho Falls, after all) and plenty of trimmings including Seafoam Salad. Then we got spoiled all over again the next day with the above pictured Pork Loin that Greg woke up at 5 a.m. to make for us.

It was unbelievably tender for pork, and plenty flavorful despite its few ingredients.

Greg's Pork Loin
2 gallons water
2 c. plus 1 T. salt
3 t. coarsely ground pepper, divided
4 garlic cloves, divided
7-pound pork loin (with bones and tied with twine)
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

Make a brine with the water, 2 c. salt, 2 t. coarsely ground pepper and 2 crushed garlic cloves. Place the pork loin in the brine, completely submerged, and refrigerate for 5 to 5-1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare a barbecue that's large enough to accommodate the entire pork loin. Create a rub with the olive oil, remaining 1 T. salt, 1 t. ground pepper and 2 minced garlic cloves. Discard the brine and pat the pork dry, then rub the olive oil mixture evenly over the pork.

Cook the pork on the barbecue until all sides are nicely browned, then place the pork in a roasting pan and cover with foil. Bake in an oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers at 155 degrees. We had some trouble browning the meat because it was so darn cold in Idaho, so the timing here could vary, but altogether it will likely take 2-1/2 to 4 hours.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Kalbi that almost cost me an extra $45

All this talk about Korean BBQ got me in a Korean BBQ mood, so decided to prepare Kalbi the easy way: Instead of making my own sauce, which Mom does, I just used a Korean-Style BBQ Sauce for Beef Ribs that I found at a Korean store in Mom's neighborhood.

Unfortunately, this cut of beef rib is a bit hard to find, and the store I bought them at this week, which will remain unnamed, is now on my *?#! list because they overcharged me $45. Yes, I got the money back when I by chance noticed the mistake, but think I deserved a little more than an apology, don't you? A gift card, perhaps? Even better, a free bottle of wine!

Would have tasted great with the ribs I marinated overnight, then simply pan-fried for about 2-3 minutes per side. Ideally, I would have grilled them, but brrrr! We'll leave winter grilling to the masters like Mom!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Seattle street food finally goes fusion

Seattle is in the midst of a street food revolution that I am just loving, even though I haven't gotten to try much so far.

A small business area in my neighborhood that I've been covering for my other blog went from having sporadic visits from random food trucks earlier this year to now in the middle of winter featuring a schedule with a different vendor for lunch nearly every day of the week.

This week I finally made it down there to try one of their latest additions, Fusion on the Run, which I simply couldn't resist after reading so much about the Kogi BBQ truck that I was unable to track while in L.A. this summer. Now I'm not so sad I missed Kogi, which I think puts about a pound of cilantro on each taco. In comparison, Fusion on the Run offers a more Hawaiian take on their choices, which means I will be going back to try their creative and non-cilantroed taco options (coconut chicken curry, Kalua pig and Spam, oh my!), and also to get some more ideas for my own culinary creations.

How did I never think of this combination, called the Ono Sandwich? I'm always looking for an excuse to make Kalua Pig, but it just makes too big of a batch for Bryan and I to eat unless we're having a party. But if we put it on buns and eat it with coleslaw like BBQ Pork sandwiches, the two of us could easily devour all 6 pounds of pig!

Hey, don't judge.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chicken favorite morphs into a pasta dish

One of the things I miss most about working at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is how it forced me to constantly try new recipes. Sure, I still browse recipes in the newspaper and other publications, but the chances of me making a recipe that I've sat staring at for hours are much higher. I got to know the recipes so well while editing them, I could almost taste them, which usually meant that it would be appearing on my table within the week.

That's not to say all the recipes were winners, but working there definitely added more girth to my myriad recipe books. Among the winners, however, is Chicken Paillards with Cremini Mushroom Sauce, which I've been making a little too often lately because I don't have a lot of other recipes that use leeks, and I've been getting a lot of them from the farm.

So this time I decided to mix things up a bit. I was struggling to decide what kind of starch to make with the chicken. I usually make my Rice Pilaf, but that just sounded so boring. Instead, I turned the recipe into a pasta dish that I've actually been mulling in my head for a couple of weeks:

Pasta with Chicken, Mushroom and Leeks
2 chicken breasts, cut in strips
1/2 t. kosher salt, divided
1/4 t. garlic salt
4 slices bacon, chopped
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 leek, sliced thin
2 c. penne pasta
3/4 c. chicken broth, divided
1/4 c. sour cream
2 t. cornstarch
Mix chicken with 1/4 t. kosher salt and garlic salt and let marinate in the fridge for about 2 hours.
Heat a large nonstick skillet to medium high and cook bacon. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels; drain all but 1 T. of the bacon. Saute chicken in the bacon grease until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Add mushrooms and leek to the skillet with remaining 1/4 t. salt and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 c. chicken broth and sour cream and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, mix remaining 1/4 c. chicken broth with cornstarch and stir until thoroughly mixed, then add to simmering sauce; stir until thickened. Add bacon and chicken to sauce to heat through.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions. Add cooked pasta to sauce and serve.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

This Festivus was for all of us

Check out the spread at Stephen's "Festivus" party last night.

My favorite detail was the cocktail menu, which included drinks named after the "Seinfeld" episode the party was named after, including "Feats of Strength" (equal parts tequila and cranberry juice with lime); "K. Cosmo" (2 parts vodka, 1 part Triple Sec, 1 part lime juice and 1-2 parts cranberry juice); and "Airing of Grievance" (2 parts gin and 1 part sweet vermouth). That's some clever stuff!

Thanks for bartending all night Derek!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mom's "secret" dumpling recipe: Bisquick

In the midst of yesterday's deary rain, I stopped by Mom's for a quick visit and she made a corresponding meal of stew with dumplings. I was excited to finally get the recipe for her dumplings, which I've loved ever since I was a child. Well, it wasn't nearly as difficult as I imagined. She uses Bisquick. Mixed with water. How easy is that?
I gotta say, I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't some secret trick to their fluffy goodness, but it's so nice that every once in a while, getting a recipe from Mom isn't like pulling teeth.
Unfortunately, the stew recipe wasn't quite as easy to get out of her, but I'm sure her dumplings would taste marvelous with this Chicken Soup (but maybe leave out the rice!).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bleu cheese salad for bleu cheese haters

Check out this gorgeous salad I brought over to Leslie's last night that was a hit even among fellow bleu cheese haters. I try to like bleu cheese, and I even like Gorgonzola, but there's something about the bleu that's just too much. However, in this salad, it's absolutely delicious.

I don't remember where I got this recipe, but I found it online here from Williams-Sonoma. Naturally, mine is a little different (as in easier). I add only one rather than four pears, and don't necessarily insist on using just spinach as the salad. Last night I used a lovely mix of salad greens that worked equally as well:

Pear, Walnut and Bleu Cheese Salad
1/4 cup sour cream
2 T. mayonnaise
2 T. walnut oil (or canola)
2 t. red wine vinegar
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
Dash hot-pepper sauce
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 ounces baby spinach
1-2 pears, cut into bite-sized pieces
3/4 cup walnut halves, toasted
2 ounces crumbled bleu cheese

Whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, oil, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, hot-pepper sauce and black pepper in a large bowl until smooth. Toss the salad with the dressing, then top with the pears, walnuts and bleu cheese.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

If you haven't tried sunchokes, do it!

OK, seriously, who out there has ever eaten sunchokes? I'd barely even heard of them when they arrived on my doorstep from Full Circle Farm this week, but I was excited to give them a try. The description that comes with each box explained that they're also called Jerusalum artichokes, and as far as I'm concerned, you just can't go wrong with anything that has the word artichoke in it.

But since I had no idea how to prepare these sunchokes, I simply followed the recipe the farm also had sent. (Here's the PDF; it's the recipe on the top left.) I double-checked the instructions to simply scrub them, since they look kind of like a cross between ginger and yams, both of which I normally peel. But yes, the skin stays on, at least for this recipe.

Apparently, you can also mash sunchokes and use them in soups, but I will definitely be making this recipe again. Potato Au Gratin is always a winner in our house, and this one has the added benefit of tasting like it has cheesy artichoke dip mixed in. You gotta try it!

Here's how I made it:

Sunchoke and Potato Au Gratin
1 T. butter
3/4 lb. sunchokes, scrubbed and sliced in 1/4-inch slices
1-1/2 lb. potatoes, sliced in 1/4-inch slices
1/4 c. olive oil, divided
2 t. kosher salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne
1 shallot, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. grated cheddar cheese
1 T. flour
1 c. milk
1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 T. dried parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a casserole dish with the butter.
Toss the sunchokes and potatoes with 2 T. olive oil, salt, pepper and cayenne. Place half of the mixture in the dish, layering evenly. Mix the shallots and garlic in a small bowl, then sprinkle half the mixture over the sunchokes/potatoes and top it with half of the cheddar cheese. Top with remaining sunchoke/potato mixture, then the shallots and garlic, and sprinkle the flour on top. Add remaining cheddar cheese, then pour the milk over the casserole.
In a bowl, mix the panko with remaining 2 T. olive oil, parsley and Parmesan cheese, then spread evenly over the casserole. Bake for 1 hour, or until fork tender.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chile Verde passes the tender test

Before I got started on this recipe for Green Chile Pork Stew (Chile Verde), I had about as much trepidation as anticipation for the very first step of it, which, essentially, is to boil the meat in 1/3 c. water. Even Bryan passed by while the once-tender chunks of pork butt were boiling away and sarcastically said, "Mmm ... boiled meat."

But at the same time, I so was looking forward to not coating the chunks in flour, then browning them individually in oil, which 1) is time consuming, 2) is messy and gets oil splattered everywhere, including on me, and 3) does meat really need fat added to it?

However, considering that the meat had another hour and 15 minutes to simmer in acidic tomatoes, I was hopeful the pork would again end up tender, juicy and flavorful. I was not disappointed. Aside from running up the stairs a few times to stir the pot, this dish was fairly hands off, especially since I used canned chiles instead of roasing them myself (which is so not worth the work!).

Friday, December 3, 2010

Mexican Pulled Pork for breakfast!

I was trying to think of an appetizing way to style this Mexican Pulled Pork, but because I failed to make the cole slaw that usually accompanies this dish or add any other garnishes, this is what you get.

No, it's not pretty, and you know what, it didn't taste as good, either. So this morning, I decided to spruce up the pulled pork a bit: I heated some between two corn tortillas in my cast-iron skillet, slathered it with sour cream and Tapatio, then threw a fried egg on top.

Who needs cole slaw?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Un-Americanized version of Chicken Divine

Does this look familiar? Picture it on a bed of fluffy jasmine rice, covered with cheese and ... no, I guess it really doesn't look like my beloved Chicken Divine recipe. And according to Bryan, it doesn't taste very similar either, even though it has the same two main ingredients: broccoli and chicken.

Well, I suppose it's possible leaving out the condensed cream of chicken soup, mayonnaise and cheddar cheese did de-Americanize it a bit, but since I added a can of coconut milk in its place, was it much healthier? (Um, yes, actually I think it was.)

Anyway, what it all comes down to was that I really wanted to make Chicken Divine but was lacking a few of the more "American" ingredients, so I had to Asianize it a bit. Here goes:

Coconut Chicken Divine
2 chicken breasts, cut in chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. salt
1 T. canola oil
1 large stalk broccoli, cut in bite-size pieces
1 can coconut milk
1-2 T. curry
1/2 t. red pepper flakes (optional)
1 T. lemon juice

Cut chicken in chunks, then massage with garlic and salt, and let marinate for about 2 hours in the fridge.

Heat oil in skillet to medium high. Add chicken to skillet and cook until no longer pink on the outside, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan, then add broccoli to pan and stir-fry until color brightens, about 5 minutes. Return chicken to pan, then add coconut milk, curry and red pepper flakes, if using, as well as more salt to taste, then simmer until chicken is done, about 15 minutes.

Add lemon juice, then serve over rice.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Scenes from Thanksgiving

Well, I didn't get to host the Thanksgiving festivities this year after all, but I think I might have been just as tired from traveling first to Olympia and then to Portland for two nights of feasting.

Don't we look hungry here?

And check out this beautiful bird Stephen brined and Charlie butchered.

I made the Creamed Haricot Vert and Corn Casserole, which I didn't get a photo of because I was too busy stuffing my face by the time it was done. It was quite delicious, though, as was everything.

We were almost still full on Day 2, but then we found out that there was a chef in the house:

As if I had to tell you.

In addition to these mouth-watering photos, I also have a prized recipe to share, even if I didn't bring it to either party. But it did go well with all of the leftovers Stephen sent us home with!

Mai Ling's Mashed Potatoes
3 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes
4 T. unsalted butter, room temperature and cut in chunks
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature and cut in chunks
1/2 c. sour cream, room temperature
2/3 c. warm milk
Salt and pepper, to taste

Boil potatoes until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain, then gently pour back into the pot to shake off excess moisture.

Blend the potatoes with a hand or stand mixer, and slowly add the unsalted butter, cream cheese and sour cream until well blended. Gradually add in milk until the desired consistency is reach, then add salt and pepper to taste.

P.S. Do you like my new blog template? I don't, but at least it has the attributes I want again. Hopefully I'll be changing it around so that it suits me a bit better someday ...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I may be taking a break from the blog

As you can see from the below photo, the photos still aren't uploading correctly and I'm about to go crazy. Anybody know how to remedy this madness? Do share!

My favorite salmon recipe

So, most of Ruining Mom's Recipes is back to its original appearance, and what has changed I've given up on. But for some reason this photo insisted on uploading vertically. Finally worked around it, but I can't deny that frustration was mounting last night.

Anyway, like you want to hear about that! Check out this beautiful salmon! It's the last of the batch we got from Bryan's cousin Ryan this summer while we were in north B.C.

Although I tried a few new recipes with his fish (can't link to them right now because this new blog format is not very cooperative ... ), but last night I returned to the tried and true recipe I learned from Nicole years ago, who of course learned it from Chelsea.

Easy Baked Salmon
10- to 12-oz. salmon filet
1 T. unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
1/2 t. seasoning of your choice (I use Mrs. Dash Garlic Seasoning, Nicole uses onion salt)
1-2 T. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse salmon and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a large piece of foil. Sprinkle with butter, salt, pepper, seasoning and brown sugar, then close foil tightly around it. Cook salmon for about 35 minutes, or until cooked through.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What happened to my blog?

Oh goodness, I consider myself pretty intelligent when it comes to design, yet I can't figure out for the life of me how to put my blog back to the way it used to be. I don't like the way it looks now, photos aren't uploading correctly ... well, that's about it, but the photo thing is more than just a slight problem.

Well, hopefully I will figure it out soon and show you the gorgeous salmon I ate for dinner tonight.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chicken Soup for the Cold

Bryan's been sniffly all weekend, so I decided to throw together some chicken soup for him yesterday to warm him up and get him on the mend.

This is just a basic recipe, but I thought I'd share it in case you're like me and always have frozen chicken, onion, carrots and celery ready to go. I used frozen chicken thighs because that's what I had, but you could use any cut as long as it has bones (otherwise, use chicken stock instead of water). Ideally, I would have thawed the chicken beforehand, then browned it before adding the water to give the soup a little more flavor, but it turned out well regardless.

Also, take note that the rice will soak up all of the water. If you're not going to eat this all in one setting, be sure you have some extra stock on hand to add to what will look like gumbo after has sat in the pan for more than, say, 20 minutes.

Chicken Soup for the Cold
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 c. chopped yellow onion
1/2 c. sliced celery
1/2 c. sliced carrot
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 chicken thighs (or whatever you have as long as it has bones)
6 c. water
2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
1 c. uncooked rice

Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrot, and cook until soft, for about 5 minutes. Stir frequently, then add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add chicken and water and bring to a boil, then simmer for an hour. Remove chicken, then add salt, pepper and rice, bring back to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, after the chicken has cooled, throw away the bones and skin, then shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. When the rice is finished cooking, return the chicken to the pot, stir to heat chicken through, then serve.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How to destroy a Spanish Tortilla

The first time I made Tortilla Espanola, it was beautiful and delicious. But no, I didn't take a picture. Instead, you only get a photo of the Spanish Tortilla that I destroyed this morning.

Sorry about the lighting. But really, the shadows tell you more than a flash could anyway. There aren't supposed to be peaks and valleys in a tortilla, it's supposed to be a fluffy, flat potato-onion-egg dish that's perfect as a main course, a side dish or an appetizer, for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

In this case, it was just inedible.

Not only was I unable to correctly turn it over, but alas, I didn't even cook the potatoes all the way before adding the eggs. And the outside parts that were cooked were burned because I haven't yet mastered the use of the cast-iron skillet.

All that for this mess. Ugh.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Teriyaki Black Cod welcomes Mom home

So what did Mom make for us while Bryan dined on Stuffed Squash? Our favorite fish, black cod, served teriyaki style, along with sweet purple potatoes, stir-fried asparagus and stir-fried choy sum.

Teriyaki Chicken was one of the first recipes I made Mom teach me back when I was in college, but since then Teriyaki Fish has become a more frequent guest at the dinner table.

Teriyaki Black Cod
3 black cod steaks
2 T. canola oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1/4 c. Chinese cooking wine
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. water
2 T. sugar

Heat saute pan over medium high heat. Add canola oil and swirl to coat. Add garlic and ginger, and cook for 30 seconds, then add cooking wine and simmer until evaporated. Add soy sauce, water and sugar, then stir until sugar is evaporated and sauce is bubbly. Place cod steaks in pan and cook until heated through, turning a couple of times, about 6-8 minutes. Serve with sauce.

(To make teriyaki anything, the three main ingredients are soy sauce, water and sugar. Play with the measurements to make it the amount of salty/sweet that you like best.)

Even Mom likes my Stuffed Squash

Mom was finally rested enough last night for a visit from me, and she was more than happy to return to the kitchen and cook a wonderful meal for Charlie and me. Which meant that my original plan to send Bryan out to fend for himself for dinner simply wasn't acceptable.

Plus, I was feeling the need to redeem my cooking abilities after I made this Butternut Squash Filled with Spinach and Ricotta Recipe from Relish that was quite horrible. Why didn't I just stick with my own recipe? Heck, even Mom likes it!

This stuffed squash recipe changes each time I make it but the players are generally the same: Spinach, rice, Parmesan cheese, walnuts and butter are what make it so fabulous.

Mai Ling's Stuffed Squash
Large acorn squash
1-1/2 c. leftover rice pilaf (recipe follows)
8-oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
2 T. butter
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T. bread crumbs

Cut squash in half and cook, cut side down in about an inch of water at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until soft, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, mix rice, spinach, 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese and walnuts in a medium bowl.

After squash is cool enough to handle, gently spoon out the flesh into the bowl. Add butter and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste, then scoop back into each squash half. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs, then cook at 375 for another 25-35 minutes, until beginning to brown on top.

Rice Pilaf
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c. onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 c. basmati rice
1/2 c. orzo
2 c. water
1 t. salt

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan and add onion. Cook for about 5 minutes; add garlic during last minute. Add rice and orzo to pan, and continue stirring until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add water and salt, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool, still covered, for 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pizza Sauce and Mom stories

Mom just got back from an accidentally extended trip to China after she decided to visit Macau on a whim, despite the fact her visa only allowed her one entry to China. Needless to say, the strict Chinese border guards wouldn't let her back into the country, so she missed her flight home last Tuesday.

Eventually, China gave her a new visa and let her back in, but not after she and her friend Shirley ran out of money, which is kind of a sin in one of the gambling capitals of the world. Maybe they really needed that little respite, though. After all, Shirley had just married off her daughter and had been running around during her whole "vacation."

So when they got back to Guangzhou, it was their first chance to really relax during their time there. Which meant they did Mom's favorite thing: They went out to dinner. But although Mom at first acted like she was complaining about going out to eat those last couple of nights, then she said:

"Well, it's not like here," she said. "We had fish head, and you know, the tubes inside the chicken." Um, no, I don't actually. Because they're chicken intestines, which to my Americanized palate makes Chicken Gizzards seem as tame as chicken breasts.

But I'm excited she got to go back to her homeland after so many years. Even if it was a bit horrifying in the end and it's unlikely she will ever return, at least she was able to enjoy the extra time she had there.

All of her talk made me feel extra guilty for making such a boring pizza this weekend, but I'll still share the delicious sauce I made.

Pizza Sauce
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 c. chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
2 14.5-oz. cans Italian Recipe Stewed Tomatoes
1/4 c. basil, chopped chiffonade
1/2 t. kosher salt

Heat olive oil in a wide saucepan. Add onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes for last minute. Add tomatoes and simmer for about 30 minutes, uncovered.

Let cool for about 5 minutes, then pulse in a food processor to desired consistency. I like mine still a bit chunky. Add basil and salt, then spoon onto pizza before serving. This is the perfect amount for a 16-inch pizza.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A healthier version of Pasta Carbonara

One of my favorite dishes to whip up in a jiffy is Pasta Carbonara, so when I saw Food & Wine's Spinach Pasta Carbonara recipe, I knew I had to give it a try.

Naturally, I didn't follow the directions quite to a T. Two egg yolks seemed like a bit much, so I used the one egg that the recipe I usually follow calls for, and rather than ruining the recipe I think that I quite perfected it. Here's my rendition:

Spinach Pasta Carbonara
8 oz. spinach-chive linguine from Trader Joe's (or any other spinach pasta)
6 slices bacon, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. dry white wine
3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 head spinach leaves, stems removed and rinsed well (or a 5-oz. bag of spinach)

Cook bacon over medium-high heat until just starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and stir rapidly for about 30 seconds, then add wine and allow to simmer for about 1 minute. Turn heat off burner and let bacon sit there.

Break egg into a large bowl and lightly beat; add parmesan and black pepper and mix well.

Cook pasta according to package directions. In last minute of cooking, add spinach. Drain pasta and spinach, then add to bowl with egg and parmesan cheese and toss rapidly to spread mixture evenly. Turn pan with bacon into the bowl, and continue stirring until everything is well mixed. Serve immediately while it's still warm.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin is always tender

Since the Thai Red-Curry Squash Soup I made over the weekend provides enough to feed an army - or at least a sizable Thanksgiving gathering - I've been having to make Asiany food to go with it for days.

But last night I didn't know if I was going to be around to cook, so I knew I had to prepare something that was relatively easy and also difficult to screw up. Not that I don't have the utmost confidence in Bryan's cooking ability, but he is a bit out of practice, and for that I am entirely to blame.

Easy solution for the night: The always tender pork tenderloin, especially easy since we have a meat thermometer that beeps quite alarmingly when your meat gets to the desired temperature. Better yet, even without the thermometer, it would be hard to overcook this pork tenderloin.

Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin
2 lbs. pork tenderloin
5 T. soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. ginger, minced
1 T. sesame oil
1 T. brown sugar
1 t. coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 t. garlic-chili sauce

Mix soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, brown sugar, pepper and chili sauce in a zip-top bag (or do it Mom's thriftier way and use a grocery store produce bag and just be very, very careful) and marinate overnight, turning frequently.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, discard marinade and place the tenderloin in a glass pan. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until a meat thermometer registers 155 degrees. Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes (temperature should rise beyond the safety threshold of 160 degrees), then cut into 1/2-inch slices and serve with the pan drippings.

(I served mine with rice and a head of lacinto kale, sliced in 1/2-inch ribbons and sauteed at high heat for a couple of minutes in 2 T. bacon grease with 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1/2 t. kosher salt. Next time, I think I'll add 1-2 T. of oyster sauce. I'll let you know how it turns out!)

Monday, October 25, 2010

And Thanksgiving planning has begun

I might have had a bit too much fun at Oktoberfest because last week I got hit with my first major cold of the season. For most of the week, I was pretty much worthless in the kitchen, although I did manage to make my favorite Big Apple Pancake with hash browns and bacon when my appetite finally began to return.

But even without an appetite, I still wanted to cook so badly that I spent possibly hours scouring November's edition of Food & Wine, and I even woke up early one morning to plan Thanksgiving. I know it's a bit early, but I thought a little forward thinking would give me time to give a few of the dishes a test drive this year.

I was particularly intrigued by the Asian-American Thanksgiving feast from chef Joanne Chang, whose Pan-Asian flavors might appeal a bit more to my Asian relatives than the more traditional Thanksgiving recipes. But one look (it was actually more like six) at the Soy-Sauce-and-Honey-Glazed Turkey and I knew that I would have to be a much more advanced cook to pull that off with a home full of people.

Instead, I think we're going to stick with the brining theme with this Pimenton-Brined Turkey, because it both shortens the cooking time and diminishes the need for frequent basting, which is just more realistic for me. The accompanying side dishes: Smoky Chorizo Stuffing; and Creamed Haricot Vert and Corn Casserole.

Not that I've completely ruled out the Asian-American Thanksgiving, especially after my delicious success last night with its Thai Red-Curry Squash Soup (pictured above with Creamy Chicken-and-Mushroom Fricassee). Considering how much my family loved the last Roasted Butternut Squash soup I made them, this curry-coconut soup that's smooth like butter would definitely be just as much of a hit.

And, of course, there's always next year.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The no-fail Spinach Lasagna

We thought about inviting some friends over on Friday night to enjoy our favorite lasagna, but then we decided we wanted it all for ourselves. Selfish, I know, but the first batch of the cold season just tastes so good!

I got this recipe back in 2003 from the Tri-City Herald's Recipe of the Week e-mail and have been making it since. I've even made it with fresh noodles, which was amazing, but this time I used the cookless noodles, which turned out fabulous and was so much easier to put together. The more even your spinach-ricotta cheese mixture it, the better the lasagna tastes, and it's just so much easier to spread it on those uncooked noodles.

Spinach Lasagna

3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. Italian sausage
2 28-oz. cans Italian plum tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Spinach filling:
2 10-oz. packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
3/4 c. ricotta cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Pinch of nutmeg

To finish:
16-oz. package lasagna noodles
8 oz. goat cheese
8-10 oz. Mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese

For Sauce:
Cook onion and garlic in oil over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes in a stock pot. Crumble sausage in skillet and cook until done. Pulse tomatoes in a food processor and add to pot, or add them whole and crush them using a wooden spoon. Grind together pepper flakes and fennel, then add with bay leaf, salt and pepper (I use about 1/2 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper). Simmer for 45 minutes. When sauce loses its watery quality, stir in cheese. Correct seasonings; remove bay leaf and discard.

For Spinach Filling:
Squeeze spinach dry (cheesecloth works best). Add cheeses and eggs. Add salt, pepper (again, about 1/2 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper) and nutmeg. Refrigerate until needed.

To finish:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease pan with olive oil, then begin layering, first with coating of sauce, then noodles, then spinach mixture, then dot with goat cheese. Sprinkle with 1/3 of mozzarella cheese. Repeat twice; top with a little more sauce and Parmesan cheese. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Just throwing together Squash Ravioli

Before we took off for Leavenworth, I had a 1-lb. delicata squash I had to get rid of and so I decided to just throw together some ravioli. Obviously, it had been awhile since I'd last made ravioli, because it's not just something one throws together. Bryan had forgotten how much work it was, too, because when he got home from the gym and saw that a tornado had hit the kitchen, he asked a bit apologetically whether he could help. Little late for that!

But as much work as squash ravioli is, it's always worth it. I usually base my recipe off this Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter, which believe it or not is the creation of a tiny Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer named Kari Brunson who is pictured here in a stockpot. How cute is that?

I was able to make 64 2-inch raviolis with this recipe, using my awesome VillaWare Ravioli Maker from Chelsea that she thought I'd only use once then decide it wasn't worth the work.

Delicata Squash Ravioli
1-lb. delicata squash
1-1/4 lb. fresh egg pasta
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c. ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
1/8 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves

Cut squash in half, discard seeds and cook skin side down in an oven preheated to 350 degrees until tender, about 40 minutes. Set aside to cool

Prepare the pasta, which I wouldn't suggest doing unless you have a KitchenAid with a Pasta Roller Set, but I'm only saying that because it's the only way I've ever done it.

Heat the olive oil, then add the shallots and garlic and stir until slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

After the delicata has cooled, scoop out the flesh into a food processor, add the cooled shallots and garlic, cheese, egg and spices, and blend until smooth.

Assemble raviolis, then cook in simmering water for about 7-9 minutes, depending on the thickness of your pasta. You can also freeze them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper for later use.

(I usually serve these with Kari's Brown Butter, which is awesome. Her exact filling also comes highly recommended, which makes a bit too much for 1-1/4 lb. of pasta dough, but works great for lasagna. I admit, though, I haven't yet tried this recipe with the won ton wrappers - I'm afraid it would be so easy that I would never make real raviolis again!)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

Alright, I realize I've been a bit of a slacker with this blog lately, but I've actually been busy trying to make money blogging, and to do that with Ruining Mom's Recipes, I'd have to actually include some of Mom's recipes.

Well, that's not the real excuse, although I am well aware that I haven't actually been including enough of Mom's recipes. But that's much easier said than done, and to those of you to whom Mom is dear, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Please bear with me, and there will be more to come, I promise!

In the meantime, my real excuse for the extreme slacking is that I've been busy planning my birthday party trip to Leavenworth Oktoberfest, which actually reminded me a lot more of the real Oktoberfest in Munich than I ever would have imagined. The Oktoberfest Bier tasted like the real thing and the gebrannte Mandeln (sugar-roasted almonds) really took me back to all of the outdoor festivals I visited while in Germany.

But I got my biggest dose of Munich before Oktoberfest even started when Bryan, Nicole, Dan and I went to Andreas Keller in downtown Leavenworth and I found one of my favorite dishes on the menu that I haven't had for a decade: Leberkase, which is basically Bavarian meatloaf, but tastes more like a giant piece of delicious fried bologna. Sounds gross, but trust me, the stuff is marvelous.

I also was drooling over Bryan's dish, Sahne Schnitzel, which was similar to one of my favorites that my host mom used to make. Only difference was that Bryan's featured the always beloved Schnitzel, whereas my host mom usually served cut-up pork with the Spaetzle and the same delicious cream sauce. And now the hunt begins for the Sahne sauce recipe ...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Granola: new and improved

Have I finally found the perfect granola recipe?

My first attempt actually stuck around for a while, at least until Tara let me try her Barefoot Contessa granola that was so much more flavorful. But I soon realized that I was the only person eating it, which meant not everybody thought it was scrumptious. And that's a lot of granola for one person.

Now, I already knew that "not everybody," meaning Bryan, wasn't a big fan of coconut. But for some reason, I thought that toasting it as the recipe calls for would mask it. But it turns out he's not a child who you can hide disliked ingredients from, which I figured out after he devoured this coconut-free Maple Granola with Dried Berries from Bon Appetit.

But hey, ya gotta love that Bryan for never complaining about the food I make!

Anyway, to be honest, the Bon Appetit recipe was good but it kinda bored me. So I decided combine it with the Barefoot Contessa recipe (minus the coconut, naturally), and the results are oh so pleasing. The extracts in the Bon Appetit recipe smell fabulous when it's in the oven, and I like that it uses a lot less oil by including water with the liquids. Here's what I came up with:

Mai Ling's Granola II
5 c. rolled oats
1 c. whole raw almonds
1 c. whole raw cashews
2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 c. maple syrup
1/2 c. hot water
1 T. vanilla extract
2 t. almond extract
1/2 t. salt
1 c. diced dried figs
1 c. diced dried apricots
1 c. dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix oats, nuts and cinnamon in a 9x13 dish that's deep enough to hold all of the ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix canola oil, maple syrup, hot water, extracts and salt, then slowly stir in with the oat mixture. Mix well, then cook for about an hour, checking and stirring every 10-20 minutes. It's done when it's dry and crunchy, but not burned!

Add dried fruits (you can be real creative with this part), and allow to cool, stirring a couple of times.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tomato-Basil Soup hearkens to youth

When I was just a wee thing, one of our favorite late-night haunts was Minnie's on Lower Queen Anne. There weren't a lot of places that would take underage kids, and we were so over Denny's and Beth's. So when we stumbled across a place that served brie and a Tomato-Basil Soup that was to die for, we thought we were wearing the fanciest pants in town.

But then I went to Minnie's as an adult, and realized it was just another hole-in-the-wall that just happened to have an amazing Tomato-Basil Soup recipe. So after Heather tracked that recipe down, we never went back and it eventually closed.

Maybe this soup isn't exactly the same - I think Minnie's used a lot more butter and cream, but hey, nothing is stopping you from doing that, too, with this versatile recipe.

Tomato-Basil Soup
2 T. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 28-oz. cans whole tomatoes
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1 c. basil, chopped chiffonade

Heat butter in a large stockpot. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add garlic for the last minute.

Add tomatoes, bring to a low boil and simmer for 35 minutes, covered. (I usually pulse the tomatoes in a food processor before adding them, but you can just add them whole to the pot and crush them with your spoon since you'll be blending it all later.) Stir a couple of times throughout cooking.

Remove pot from heat and let cool about 5 minutes. Puree soup in a blender in batches, then return to a new stockpot with cream and reheat. Add Parmesan and stir until melted, then add basil, salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Note: This last time I accidentally used the Italian-style tomatoes with basil, and it turned out quite tasty!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tried and true Mac-n-Cheese

I let Stephen down the other day when he couldn't find our much beloved mac-n-cheese recipe on Ruining Mom's Recipes, so I decided that was the perfect excuse to whip up a batch this weekend.

This is a recipe Bryan grew up with, and Bryan and I both have had our share of ruining this recipe since we got it from Connie, oh, about a decade ago. But after bringing it to dozens of potlucks and other events, I believe we've since perfected it.

Rule No. 1: Make sure the roux (flour and butter) is thoroughly mixed before you add the milk. Rule No. 2: Bring the bechamel (after the milk is added to the flour and butter mixture) to a boil before you add the cheese, otherwise it won't thicken correctly.

Connie's Mac-n-Cheese
2-1/2 c. milk
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 t. salt
2 c. macaroni
3 c. cheddar cheese (or a combo of your favorites)

Preheat oven to 375.

Heat milk in the microwave or on the stovetop; cook the macaroni in a separate pot according to package directions.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium pot, then add salt and flour and whisk until thickened, about 2-4 minutes. Add warm milk and continue to whisk until the milk comes to a boil. Turn heat off and add 2 c. cheddar cheese. When cheese is melted, add the macaroni and pour it into a casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and cook for 35 minutes, until brown and bubbly on top.

Note: Can be made one day in advance without baking.

Variations: One of our favorite combos is to add bacon and peas. Instead of using butter, first cook 4 strips of chopped bacon, then remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, and use the grease instead of butter to make the roux. Mix the peas in when you add the macaroni to the bechamel sauce.

This dish works great with leftover ham or broccoli (or both!). Add about 2 c. chopped just before putting in the oven.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cumin sneaks into an otherwise perfect pie

I went to Mom's for dinner last night and was treated to this beautiful pie that Mom wouldn't stop bragging about because she made it from scratch. In the past, she always used refrigerated pie crusts, but she says they've gone up so much in cost that she isn't willing to pay the price anymore.

And the crust was phenomenal. And no, I didn't get the recipe (but I will!). However, I still have to share this ditty.

First of all, like all of her pies, this one was made up of what Mom had: Some apples, blackberries and the last stalk of rhubarb in her yard. But instead of buying ground cinnamon, she uses whole cinnamon sticks and grinds them herself. Except this time, the grinder had a few remnants of cumin still inside.

Being the supertaster that I am, it's all I could taste. We may as well have called it Cumin Pie! But it was in no way comparable to the Sesame Oil Cheese Cake that I made at Mom's when she recycled a vanilla extract bottle and filled it sesame oil.

As a matter of fact, it was still pretty darn near perfect. Delicious, however, might be an overstatement.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cast Iron Cornbread: "It really rocks"

Justin wasn't kidding when he shared his recipe for Cast Iron Cornbread with me and closed the e-mail with: "It really rocks."

It's nothing like the sweet, cakey cornbread Mom has always made for us -- although now she thinks she's really brilliant because she makes hers in muffin tins.

As a matter of fact, this recipe doesn't have any flour or sugar in it. But it's plenty moist and flavorful.

Cast Iron Cornbread
1/4 c. plus 2 T. canola oil
3 eggs
8 oz. sour cream
4 oz. creamed corn
1 c. corn meal (not coarse)
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

Put 2 tbsp canola oil in cast iron skillet and place in oven. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix 1/4 c. oil, eggs, sour cream and creamed corn in a medium bowl. In a seperate bowl, mix the remaining dry ingredients, then add to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour mixture into hot skillet, and bake for 30 minutes.

(Um, I just realized that I didn't put in the 1/4 c. of oil, and it turned out perfect. Huh. Sounds like experimentation time!)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Expanding my cabbage horizons

As much as I love the shipment of fresh veggies and fruits that we get every other week from Full Circle Farm, I admit it takes some planning for me to figure out how to use everything before it's too late. Especially since I don't have a clue what to do with half of the veggies.

Mom is a genius with cabbage. It shows up nearly all of her soups and stars in multiple Chinese dishes. And what can I do with cabbage? Make coleslaw. Yeah, I know, real original.

So when I got this gorgeous head of Napa cabbage this week that I hadn't planned for, I went a huntin' and found this recipe for Creamy Cabbage that was almost impossible to stop eating -- even though I royally screwed up the bechamel sauce.

See, I can do more than just ruin Mom's recipes!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Keep kale on the stove a bit longer

Remember the Cheesy Orzo with Veggies I made last month that I loaded up with kale? Well, I wasn't actually honest about the end result of that dish, which although tasty, also produced some ... let's jut say intestinal issues. Kale is yummy stuff, but it's also some serious roughage that I think requires a little more time over the flames.

So when I decided to pair kale with Pork Medallions with Mushroom Gravy, I still served Cheesy Orzo but left out the veggies (which made it quite runny, by the way, so you might want to reduce the fluid amount by about 1/4-1/2 cup), and let the kale cook for about 30 minutes. Even after all that time, it still was firm!

Sauteed Kale
2 strips bacon, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bunch kale, sliced in 1/2 strips with stems in the middle
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
1 c. chicken broth

Cook bacon over medium heat, then remove to paper towels. Add garlic to pan and quickly stir around, then add the kale and pepper and saute until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and let it simmer, partially covered, for about 25 minutes, or until it's tender to your liking. Add bacon and heat through, then serve.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mai Ling's Minestrone ... for the day

Fall does more than just instill nostalgia for Oktoberfest. It also creates a need to create and devour rich, hearty soups.

Of course, Mom would prefer it if soups were a part of our daily diet, as they are in her house, where she serves soup before every meal. You see, it's not just a ritual that's done at Asian restaurants, it's actually a tradition that I believe has multiple health reasons: 1) to heat your belly and prepare it for hot, solid food, and 2) to fill your belly and keep you from overeating during the meal.

Unfortunately, there aren't actually any recipes for the soups that Mom makes. I've asked, believe me, but it just seems like she throws together whatever mishmash of vegetables, mushrooms and soup bones she has on hand. I'm sure the basic combinations come from something that once resembled a recipe or maybe just flavors she remembers from childhood, but it's going to take me some time to be able to share them with you.

So bear with me, and know that in the meantime, she's also passed on that ability to throw together a mishmash of whatever is in the refrigerator to yours truly, although right now I'm still wading through typical American fare. You're going to have to wait for the Asian soups, which are intimidating when your mom could throw down Bobby Flay with just a pair of chopsticks and some soy sauce.

I'm not sure what exactly defines a Minestrone soup, but I know they often have beans and noodles in them, so we'll just call this

Mai Ling's Minestrone
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. sliced carrot
1 c. sliced celery
4 c. chicken broth
1 14.5-oz. can Italian-style stewed tomatoes (or just use normal tomatoes and add basil and oregano)
2 frozen chicken breasts
1 15.5-oz. can cannellini beans
1 15.5-oz. can garbanzo beans
1 c. dried macaroni (or other noodle of your choice)
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a stockpot. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, then add onions, carrots and celery and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add broth, tomatoes and chicken and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove chicken to a plate and shred with two forks. Meanwhile, add macaroni to soup and cook according to package directions.

When macaroni is cooked, add chicken, both cans of beans and pepper to heat through, then serve.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Our own little Oktoberfest

With fall in the air, I've got Oktoberfest on the brain, which is when all I want to do is eat German food. I could wait a month for when we got to the big Leavenworth Oktoberfest festival, but to be honest I've had better luck finding authentic German food at Seattle's Feierabend than in touristy Leavenworth.

Besides, Wiener Schnitzel isn't really German, which is what I decided to make last night, even though I scoffed at the Veal Schnitzel recipe from Bon Appetit that I based it on because it used panko crumbs -- Japanese breadcrumbs. But it turns out panko makes a good Schnitzel! I paired it with German Potato Salad (recipe follows) and Cucumber Salad.

Wiener Schnitzel
2 thick pork chops, slightly frozen
1 c. milk plus 2 T., divided
1 c. flour
2 large eggs
1 c. panko
1/2 c. grated Asiago cheese
2 T. butter
1 T. canola or vegetable oil

Cut each pork chop into four thin cutlets, then arrange evenly in a glass dish. Pour 1 c. milk over the pork and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.

Place flour in a shallow dish, lightly beaten eggs plus 2 T. milk in a second, and in a third the panko mixed with the Asiago.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F., and heat butter and oil in a skillet over medium high heat.

Remove pork from milk and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then dredge each cutlet first in flour, then in eggs and lastly in the panko mixture. Here's your assembly line.

Cook cutlets on stovetop two at a time, 3-4 minutes per side, then place in oven to keep warm until ready to serve.

German Potato Salad
2 lbs. potatoes
1 c. onion, chopped
1 t. kosher salt
6 T. apple cider vinegar
3-4 T. canola oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Green onions

Boil potatoes in their jackets. This takes about 50 minutes. Drain potatoes and let them sit for 20-30 minutes, until they're cool enough to handle but still hot. Peel the skins, then thinly slice the potatoes. Gently mix them with the onions. Mix salt and vinegar, pour over the potatoes, mix gently, then allow to sit in a warm place for an hour. Stir in canola oil before serving, then sprinkle with black pepper and green onions. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Zucchini Fritters -- surprise, they're fried!

Now that family month is over, I have no idea what to do with myself. So I guess that means I'll head back into the kitchen.

Actually, my fridge had been neglected for so long that I had to do some serious planning to use what remained, which led me to these Tender Zucchini Fritters from Bon Appetit that I knew would be ideal for the two zucchini that had gone a bit soft.

Unfortunately, I hadn't actually read enough of the recipe to understand that I would be frying dinner tonight, which was the last thing I wanted after eating every five seconds over the weekend.

And besides the added fat that I am trying to avoid, frying also proves a lesson for me every time. First, I tried using my Ferrari frying pan (a 12-inch All-Clad saute pan we got as a wedding gift), but all the yummy browned bits just stuck to the bottom. So I started over again in a nonstick and it seemed to work better. But honestly, I think it's all about the heat, just like Mom keeps telling me.

Next time, I'll just turn up the heat, real high. I'll let you know how it all turns out.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Brunch at Chez Slaughter

We did a lot of eating out during the last part of "family month," while Aunt Cindy and Uncle Bart were visiting: happy hour at Maximilien, dinner at the Steelhead Diner and brunch at Kona Kitchen, just to name a few.

But everybody in the family still found time to create a home-cooked meal to remind them how the Asian side of their family shares their love. I had a lot of competition after a meal made entirely from farmers market finds by Stephen, followed by Mom's amazing pork ribs and about a dozen other dishes that Bryan and I actually missed out on because we were at what very well could have been the most beautiful wedding ever at The Golf Club at Newcastle.

I guess I have family month to thank that my brunch also was a success, namely Bryan's cousin Ryan, who gave us the most amazing smoked salmon I have ever had, which also made my Smoked Salmon Quiche unbeatable.

Smoked Salmon Quiche
9-inch pie crust (store-bought if you're smart)
4 T. butter
3 leeks, sliced thin
8-oz. cream cheese (Neufchatel works fine)
2 cups smoked salmon, broken up in bite-size chunks
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 c. nonfat half-and-half (feel free to go full fat!)
1/2 t. pepper

Prepare pie crust and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat butter in a nonstick pan. Add leeks and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and add cream cheese until smooth.

Meanwhile, mix eggs, half-and-half and pepper in a large bowl. Add the smoked salmon and the leeks-cream cheese mixture and lightly mix. Slowly pour into pie crust and bake for about an hour. Check it after 45 minutes, then check it in five minute intervals until the top is lightly browned. I gotta be honest, mine wasn't quite done in the middle - but it was still delicious!

And here's the rest of the menu:
Cava Sangria from Bon Appetit
Sticky Buns (Overnight Bubble Bread from All Recipes)
Spinach & Feta Quiche (see the Mushroom-Spinach Quiche on the bottom of this post, except I used feta instead of Swiss cheese)

Yes, we waddled out of there, did some wine tasting at Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Winery, then somehow found it in us to eat again at the Red Hook Brewery just so we could enjoy the beautiful deck.

Please visit again soon! I can't guarantee the weather will be as picture perfect, but I can guarantee you'll leave with a full stomach!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back to the kitchen, with gusto

So maybe I went a little overboard last night. But I had a brief respite from what I'm now lovingly calling "family month," and I not only missed my kitchen, but I also needed to get cooking while some of my produce was in its prime.

First I made a batch of peach jam since I gave away the entire first batch that I made in July. This time I made half-pint jars, so hopefully the giving will go a little longer.

Then I decided to make up my own entree. After Bryan was talking about a Seattle P-I article about how wonderful bacon is, I decided it would be the perfect addition to the halibut that we got from Bryan's cousin in British Columbia during the first part of "family month."

It's not much of a recipe. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, then heat an iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook for about 5 minutes so the grease coats the bottom. Flip the bacon and move it to one side, place a fillet skin-side down, and top it with half the bacon. Repeat with a second fillet, and cook in oven for about 8 minutes.

We paired it with Bob's Red Mill Polenta and Swiss Chard Gratin from Greg Atkinson's "West Coast Cooking."

And we finished the evening with Peach Cobbler, also from "West Coast Cooking." And no, I didn't get any work done last night. But we sure did eat like kings.